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January 9, 2012 School is starting – and some things are very good – by Carol

Posted by on January 10, 2012
 School officially starts tomorrow, but there were several teachers meetings last week.  Many good things happened in these meetings.

Their education continues:  There was a teacher’s strike last year that closed down the schools for nearly two months and the teachers got almost no concession from the government.  They were very bitter and extremely demoralized at the end of the year when I arrived.

Everyone was worried about the impact on the students and feared there would be a very low pass rate for students which would prevent them from  moving to the next level of education, which is only available to students who can master 40% of all materials taught in secondary school (equivalent to 8,9, and 10th grade).  My school did very well passing 79% of the students, which was the second best in the district).

 The headmaster was very happy and gave many compliments to the teachers.  They in turn seemed to get energy from his happiness.

  The beating must stop:  Corporal punishment is alive and well here.  Legally there are all sorts of procedures that need to be followed before a student can get up to 5 lashes with the stick.  In reality the teachers are sometimes  abusive to the children.  They hit, slap, push, pinch, and lash with the stick as well as humiliate them, for things such as talking in class, or being late.  The teachers also curse and use abusive language.  Many schools don’t like how the Americans react to this type of abuse believing we are “being to emotional”.

I was extremely happy to hear the headmaster at my school tell the teachers they can only use corporal punishment as allowed under the law.  He told them any other contact could be considered an assault and the police may have to be called.  He asked the teachers to consider what they would do if their own children were assaulted in a school by a teacher.  He told them when they hit children in anger they are being vindictive and not educating the children.  I was so happy to hear him talk like that!

 The teachers stated that the children were very bad and needed much more discipline that he was willing to deal with in the school.  The Deputy Head mistress then told the teachers discipline starts in the classroom.
She told them they need to come to class and be prepared and to understand their subject matter.  She mentioned that many teachers don’t attend class and leave for five or six hours a day.  She told them it is their colleagues and not the students that were letting everyone down.

The teachers continued to insist the children were bad and needed to be “disciplined” considerably more than what is currently being dished out – but the administrators remained focused on being educators as well as decent human beings!!!

I was so happy to hear all those things.  So many of my peer PCV’s say there is no protection for the children in the school they work at.

Empower Parents:  The next day was freshman orientation.  The guidance counselor had been trying to get a parent to talk to all the parents (who attend orientation with their child) about HIV/AIDS and general life skills.  No parent would speak about the subject.  So I did.

I told them children ask many questions about relationships, sexuality, and HIV/AIDS.  The first thing I ask each child is, “have you talked to your parents?”  Most say no.  I ask them if they wish they could talk to their parents and they all say yes.  I ask the inquiring child if he/she will talk to their children about these things when they grow up.  Each child says they absolutely will.  I asked the parents to be open to any conversation and to initiate conversations when possible.  I told them I would help them find the words and way if they would please do that.

Even though no one asked for help that day, I felt very good about this little speech.  I feel good about the administrators and I am looking so forward to school starting!

 More everyday stuff:

We took a 10 mile hike the other day and found a few fun things:

A "nice" lounge - but no people

A "nice" lounge - but no people

We stopped to get some extra juice at one of the usually unspeakably hot, with concrete walls and picnic benches filled with a bunch of obnoxiously drunk people who demand money for drinks when we decided we were going to extend our hike.  (Iusually stand at the road and make John go get the juice.  Sometimes even he won’t go in and we go thirty).  It is funny how these places are just everywhere and in the middle of nowhere.  To our surprise we found a place that had some decorations, and some design to it. Also there were no people here – not sure why because these places are usually packed to the gills with people overflowing from the building to the road.  Maybe because the business had such a different look – or maybe it was new.  Anyway, we decided to stay for a few minutes since it was so nice.

Yes, those chairs are made of rocks and concrete – not so comfortable, but the surest thing we have seen to an attempt as pleasing aesthetic.

We got to see another awesome sunset on our way back home

Sunset in front of the school

Sunset in front of the school






I had to wake John up from his Saturday morning snooze when he got a very happy surprise phone call from Aaron, Dave and Tom.  He had to take out his earplugs, take off his eye mask and get out from under the mosquito netting.  But he was awful happy to get a call from back home!

John with earplugs, eyemask, and netting.  Everything to keep the critters at bay.

John with earplugs, eyemask, and netting. Everything to keep the critters at bay.

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